Thursday, August 25, 2011

a note of thanks

Our referral has arrived to our agency. With a substantial check enclosed. A check that, frankly, we couldn't have produced on our own. We didn't produce on our own.

I cannot tell you what it was like to have that money in the bank to have this check produced.

Yet again, 'thank you' seem insufficient.

But you know who you are that we're thanking.

We decided to create a spreadsheet of all the expenses that were paid starting back in November, 2010, so when we need it for tax purposes all the compilations have been done.


Turns out one of the final forms we had to complete for our referral packet asked us to fill in boxes of expenses paid and expenses yet to pay. It was nice to already have that compiled, but it made it quite extraordinary to see that a whole page of expenses have been paid.

Like a PAID IN FULL stamp.

When I think about James' adoption being PAID IN FULL it makes me think about how Jesus stamped PAID IN FULL on our lives.

We are so, so very grateful to each and everyone of you. To those who gave just what they could. To those who stretched themselves. And to those who weren't entirely sure about our decision to adopt, but allowed God to move them to see His beautiful plan for our family -- so much so that you chose to get behind us even financially -- where it sometimes stretches us the most.

Thank you.

The generosity, the changed hearts, the resulting tears at how mighty and amazing our God is, has been overwhelming at times. To see this process coming to an end and to know that we're going to fetch our little guy in just a matter of months, is a bit unbelievable.

We've gotten to know a family who adopted a little boy from China about two years ago. When the mom asked me where things were at with our adoption and I told her, she said as her face lit up with a smile, 'Omigosh. You're really far along! You'll be traveling soon.'


To hear someone whose been right down this road say that gave me goose bumps!

Thank you for all your love and support. It means the world to us!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

three hours?

Would it shock you if I told you that one of the forms that came with James' referral took me three hours to complete?


Sometimes I just can't believe all that's gone into this adoption. The hours, and hours, and hours of toiling under the sun (the book of Ecclesiastes has been my friend lately). But, I'll tell you something...

It's so, so, so worth it.

Absolutely worth every single hour invested. Every dollar paid. Every bit of the stretching. The stretching of who we are.

As weary as I've felt at times -- and as frustrated as I've felt when I've sat and sat just typing away on my computer filling out yet another government form -- I know it's eternal.

Can you believe that? Filling out forms, running around town, getting fingerprints taken, having a bajillion passport photos taken, making payment after payment after's all eternal. That is amazing to me. These physical tasks are for an eternal purpose. Bringing James into our family has eternal implications.


Hoping to send our signed and notarized referral back to Wide Horizons this week! Woot woot!

Monday, August 15, 2011

happy birthday, james!

Y'all. Today is our sweet baby James' birthday! Our little guy is two.


APOLOGY CLAUSE: To the many of you that I've spent time with who have a child who is anywhere around the age of two, I apologize for staring, studying, stalking and/or gawking at your sweet child. I have been so struck by almost two-year-olds and two-and-a-half-year-olds of late. I just stare at their tiny bodies. Their tiny fingers and hands. Their tiny feet and shoes. How they cling to their mom's and dad's legs. Omigoodness. We're going to have one of those most-precious creatures. I can't wait! :)

You wouldn't think there'd be that much difference between our almost-five-year-olds and a two-year-old, but oh, there is! So much delicious difference.

And if today being James' 2nd birthday isn't exciting enough, our official referral for James arrived via FedEx on Thursday! Wow. It sure was exciting to open it. The contents therein made everything feel very official and legally binding. Wow. We really are going to be James' parents. He really is going to live here with us. We really are going to travel to China and get him.

This is really happening.

There have been times when this adoption being complete has felt so far away that I haven't even been able to go there. Ya know, like go there in my mind and imagine the feeling of his little body in my arms. Going there and imagining the feeling on my lips of kissing his pudgy cheeks. Going there and imagining the smell of his neck after a bath.

I just haven't gone there very much.

Until now.

As fun as it is to go there in my mind and heart, the going there can make the waiting hard. But we are waiting well, I think. At least for the moment.

I've told many people who've asked for updates that we're done with our part and are just waiting. I spoke too soon. With the referral came some ridiculously tedious forms to fill out. Boy, does our government know how to make things confusing and daunting. But we shall persevere.

There was one thing contained in the referral packet that almost made me giddy...

A packing list.

Really? How cool. We're at the point where we can actually consider what we need to pack. What we need to bring as small gifts for the many people who will help us in China to collect James and get through the journey of adopting him. Interesting tidbit: we were instructed to consider red wrapping paper for these small gifts as the Chinese have a special affinity for red. I found that intriguing. I can't wait to experience the Chinese culture and get a taste of who James is while we're there.

Prayer request: please continue to pray that we'll be called to travel and adopt James by the end of the year. I just have such a yearning to do that and not have to wait into 2012. I would love for your to pray for that with me.

Love to all!

Monday, August 8, 2011

quick update

Our immigration approval (I-800) was overnighted to our agency today so it will arrive tomorrow. That is the only thing our agency's been waiting for to issue us our official referral of James. This is huge, y'all. Accepting a referral is saying, 'Yes, we accept. We would like to be thhis child's parents.' But another perk about getting James' referral is that we will likely be able to get an update on him. Until this point, everyone's pretty tight lipped. Perhaps we can even get more recent photos and how big he is, what his likes/dislikes are, etc. Cross your fingers that there's an update to report or at least that they can get one when I request it. :)

We should have the referral by the end of the week.

And the I-800 is being sent to China immediately to join the rest of the dossier, so everything will be complete. At least on our end.

Now move, China, move. As fast as you can, please.

Friday, August 5, 2011

laying it out there

I have a confession to make.

Just laying it out there.

I'm getting nervous.

Time's a tickin' and I know James will be home with us before we know it. September will bring the start of school and, I don't know about you, but the fall is always a busy time for us. We have birthdays to celebrate, annual traditions in the way of fall activities that we love and count down the days to, and all that the holidays bring. It's a joyful time. Very possibly my favorite time of year. But it always goes fast. There's a swift clip that develops that always causes the fall months to whiz by and before we know it, it's Christmas. And, this year, we won't just be anticipating Christmas, but sweet baby James.

We know some folks who have recently brought their children home or who are in the process of bringing a child home and it's emotional. There are lots and lots and lots of changes. I'm up for the changes that James' addition will bring to our family because I know that with the challenges will be enormous blessings and holy moments. But if I'm completely honest, I'm nervous about what's in store with his special needs. I'm not some kind of super-mom who doesn't fear. I fear for him. I fear for us. What he will and won't be able to do. What we'll face due to others' comments -- well-meaning or not. What our children will face by having James as their brother. In some ways, I'm ready! I feel like we've been applying our armor for months, but in some ways I'm just nervous.

Will he be able to use his left hand at all? Is it functional? Or will we have to quickly take the road of teaching him to do things with his feet?

I know with the utmost certainty that God will be with us during the process of getting to know James and learning about his abilities. But there are huge unknowns ahead.

That makes the comfort of having the Lord at our side greater than I can possibly convey.

I don't know how we'd do this without Him. We couldn't. Plain and simple.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the latest...

I sent our notarized and certified I-800A (immigration approval) to our courier in DC yesterday! It should've arrived today and will be taken to the Department of State and then the Chinese Embassy. Hopefully, it's authentication will be complete on Friday and our agency will have it in their hands next week.

We received notice that our log-in date (LID) was July 12th. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but it is! Our dossier is officially in queue in China. Which, of course, has caused me to 'crunch the numbers' a hundred times to see if, by the grace of God, it might be possible to travel to get James before the end of the year. We were given a range of 3 to 4 months from LID to preliminary approval. A month or two from preliminary approval to travel approval (TA). And actually traveling about a month after travel approval. Of course if I insert a heaping spoonful of grace into these measurements, I get:

July 12th + 3 months = October 12th.

October 12th + 1 month = November 12th.

November 12th + 1 month = December 12th!

And that leaves a couple of weeks of wiggle room for my timeframes being a little too tight. And, well, Christmas of course. There is no way we'll travel over Christmas.

So naturally, in my mind, I'm booking plane tickets for December 27th. :)

Will keep you posted.

Oh, and by the way...I've wanted ten times to post another photo or two of James for your viewing pleasure, but was asked by the folks that took the photos last year when they visited his orphanage to please refrain from posting them on-line (but the ones I already posted were fine).


Oh, how I wish I could plaster his sweet little face all over this place. We have many photos that I haven't been able to share.

Here are some others to hold you over from our recent vacation to Mackinac Island, Michigan. Enjoy. And perhaps, very soon, in lieu of glorious views and sun streaked waters, I can post some of our sparkly-eyed, pudgy-cheeked little James. Far more glorious, if you ask me.

Oh, and it may help to mention that Mackinac Island doesn't have motorized vehicles. Everything is delivered, transported, moved and hauled by horse. Or bike. It was like stepping back in time. Very cool.

Main Street

Our family has always loved horses, but this trip to Mackinac ruined us!

I look all put-together here, yes? Yeh, the spirit of putting all the 'I don't know how you do it' or 'You are amazing' comments in their proper place, I had my moments on this trip! Whooey! I was so out-numbered! :)

Arch Rock

View of Lake Michigan from Arch Rock. Stunning.

The (very) Grand Hotel.

So grand that it costs $10 per person (!) just to step in the door and look at the place. We found that entirely too ridiculous and unworthy of my shelling out $50, so our riding by during our carriage tour was sufficient.
View from Fort Mackinac

This is the site where missionaries would camp and built a chapel when they came to the Island to share the Gospel. Pretty cool.


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